The Secret To A Good Nights Sleep with Stephanie Romiszewski | E64 | Transcription

Transcription for the video titled "The Secret To A Good Nights Sleep with Stephanie Romiszewski | E64".

1970-01-05T15:33:37.000Z

Note: This transcription is split and grouped by topics and subtopics. You can navigate through the Table of Contents on the left. It's interactive. All paragraphs are timed to the original video. Click on the time (e.g., 01:53) to jump to the specific portion of the video.


Introduction

Intro (00:00)

just don't have the education so our own doctors do not have enough education in something that we do a third of our lives. If you are waking up in the middle of the night and it's been happening to you over and over again to resolve the habit you're going to have to do. Sleep. It's a thing that we will do every day but for some reason in our society it's still a little bit of a mystery. How many hours should we be sleeping? What is sleep depth? Is there a perfect sleep routine? Should I wake up at a certain time? Why do I get sleep paralysis in somnia? Why do I have these dreams? My next guest, Stephanie Romaszewski, worked with NASA and Harvard Medical School to understand these questions. Stephanie currently works as a sleep physiologist helping people cure and understand that in somnia and sleep disorders. So without further ado, my name is Stephen Bartlett and this is the Dirova CEO. I hope nobody is listening but if you are then please keep this to yourself. Stephanie. The first question I wanted to ask you and I've got millions and millions of questions to ask you because this is a topic which as I said before we started chatting on air has really peaked and interest over the last three years.


What the result of not sleeping properly? (01:04)

I've never had so many of my friends in my sort of close circle ask me questions about sleep, send me articles about sleep and I don't know what's happened but as a nation and as a species I think we've got really really curious about this idea of sleep and also it's important. The first question I wanted to ask you was how important sleep is but I think a better way to understand that and the answer is to actually look at the consequences you've seen in your line of work for people that have bad sleep or that have insomnia. So could you speak to that a little bit? I can. That's a big question. What I have seen over the last 16 years of my career is not people coming in dying because they aren't sleeping or with really really significant illnesses. I've seen people very anxious, very stressed, very low because their sleep is poor and they are extremely worried about it and I've seen people who are at the top of their game and doing really well in life but are completely crippled by these sleep problems but it is the fear of bad things, worse things happening to them that is keeping them as stressed and upset as they are. So it's quite interesting because I think the things that bring people to me to get their sleep treated are exactly that fear is actually what I'm trying to alleviate rather than fixing their sleep because I think they're going to get so sick that something terrible is going to happen to them. So it's a really interesting question to ask how does sleep affect us? The reality is we actually or why do we sleep? We don't know actually why we sleep. We know what happens when we don't sleep but I think we're getting very very confused between those of us that struggle with sleep and those that are actively depriving themselves of sleep like the CEO who says I'll sleep when I'm dead for example. But those of us who are actively trying to sleep when we can't and we will do anything and we make our sleep opportunities larger and we still can't get sleep. We're not depriving ourselves of sleep. We're doing anything we can to get sleep. So I worry about the amounts out there about sleep at the moment and the way that the information is being disseminated because I think that's where we're going a bit wrong and all the tracking of sleep and all the tech that comes out. I'm not saying it's a bad thing. I'm just saying that it's almost like we haven't quite caught up with all the information that we have and we can't cope with it quite the way we need to. So you speak about the tech that we have now.


Where is the bullshit? (04:00)

Apple watches all these smart devices that are telling us how many hours a day we're sleeping and also there's books. There's probably a couple of books on the shelf behind me about the perfect night sleep or the perfect morning routine or the perfect time to wake up. Where is the bullshit? Oh my god. Again another massive question. There is so much of it. It's all it's so nuanced. You're going to have to ask me some specifics because there is so much there that actually is I mean well the first thing the biggest thing I would say is you know going to bed at exactly the same time every night dictating your bedtime is probably the worst piece of advice I've ever heard and sends people off on all sorts of different tangents which does not help. If anything it makes their insomnia is worse because they go to bed in the dark not able to sleep getting more anxious heart rate going up. What should they do instead? Stay up until they're sleepy. Don't worry about it. Enjoy yourself. Relax. Do the things that you probably don't get time to do because you're busy doing all the other things during the day. It's the problem I have with that approach which is the approach that I think I've adopted maybe a little bit too much or incorrectly is if I stayed up doing the things that I want to do what happens is I'll stay up till 7 a.m. just looking at YouTube videos and learning about rockets and looking at like stocks to invest in stuff. That's me to a tea. At some point I have to put my laptop down and be like Steve you're going to feel awful tomorrow if you can. Looking at this investment fund that you think is interesting. Yeah absolutely. To a degree you can I mean we can manipulate our bodies to do anything in a lab I could manipulate your body to sleep when I wanted it to sleep but that's taking away all the environmental factors all the behavioral factors of your life and what you're doing now you know what it's not the end of the world. You know you're obviously coping with it and you're healthy. The problem is you probably won't be able to sustain that and unfortunately we are built in such a way that kind of goes with the light dark cycles on this planet and so to a degree you are sort of going against that and unfortunately we've got lots of other we've got lots of research showing that after a while you just can't do that forever without implication. So it's not I mean if you think about it insomnia is just a different pattern of sleep you've just trained your brain to sleep differently and you're still surviving with it it's just that most of us don't like that because it's not the rest of society in the way that they're sleeping and our friends are sleeping and it feels like we're the only ones awake in the night. I bet if you didn't have all those things to do and you weren't the way you were and you were up at night and everybody else around you is asleep it would start to feel like a very lonely anxious place. We're not very rational at night we're not really made to think in the middle of the night so we're not incredibly rational. So I don't think it's the end of the world what you're doing but at the same time put it this way I treat a lot of entrepreneurs when they've retired and they're still fairly young but not in a good place because they have not followed anything that was fairly going along with what our physiological processes want to do. Our bodies are all about regulation we have clocks in every cell in every part of our body and they like regulation they like time they like the timing of things to be ready and regular and when we keep changing those goalposts it might seem like we're being uber flexible but actually the reality is that later on down the line you'll probably find that you won't be able to cope with it as much. And how does that manifest itself for me? So for you if you just carried on the way you were then unfortunately yeah we probably would see that maybe you were getting less sleep than you needed it probably would be harder for you maybe when you settled into a routine where you were working around the same hours every day say you've got a certain kind of role that you had to do which made you know you had to have a certain schedule you might find it quite difficult after a while to stick to that schedule and you might find that you aren't able to sleep as much as you want the duration and the quality will be impaired and so you might start all the research around sleep and how important it is for you you might start noticing things like your cognitive abilities are less so your memory things like that your ability to produce cytokines so the proteins that help us with keeping ourselves healthy and keeping inflammation at bay and things like that all those kind of things will be reduced your healing so when you go and wait training or something like that or you go to the gym and you want your muscles to repair they're not going to be able to do that so well and of course that over time short term it's not a problem over time long term that's when we start worrying about more significant illnesses and disorders that are happening as we get older and so that's why we see lots of research showing that as we get older maybe some of these things like Alzheimer's might be related to how we treated our sleep when we were younger however I hate it I hate mentioning things like that because I think it frightens people and the problem is with frightening people is that they go into what they think is most logical things to do so they might go away after the podcast and think oh my god I've just got to go away and get my eight hours because the rest of the information is telling them out there but they've got to get this eight hours of sleep every night and of course they can't just get that you can't dictate to your body how it sleeps if there is a process it follows it and so unfortunately you can never force yourself to sleep you can force yourself not to sleep and that is partly how you fix a sleep problem but you can never force yourself to sleep but you can induce anxiety and stress and depression through that and lack of sleep so yeah. If you're an expert in this field so you must as you kind of spoke to there you must get pretty I can feel it when you're speaking get pretty pissed off when you see unhelpful information being pushed on I don't know social media or online or through books these look sort of simplified narratives what are some of the most common misconceptions that you speak to your patients about you mentioned one there about this like eight hours of sleep being the optimal yeah and even when I put out on my Instagram earlier what are the key questions you want to ask I'm speaking to sleep therapist expert today I'd say the vast majority or at least the medium question was do I need to get exactly seven or eight hours sleep every single night yeah yeah so that is definitely the biggest one we get you do not that perfection is the enemy of the good have you ever heard that term because at the end of the day it's true yes your body loves consistency and regulation but that does not mean you have to get eight hours of sleep every night think about it differently think about it over a month for example we love this idea


What are the common misconceptions (10:00)

of the way the way we look at time is slightly different to the way your body looks at time and over a month you might actually be all right so maybe one night you get six and a half hours the next night you get seven and a half and then the next night you might get slightly different as long as it's fairly consistent and maybe 80% of the time you're doing fairly well and you're you're giving yourself the right opportunity to see that's okay your body's gonna do it you know it will do what it needs to do and with that a caveat to that is this understanding of sleep debt so we don't understand sleep debt properly people think it's an eye for an eye I lose four hours I must gain four hours well what happens when your body being as efficient as it is doesn't actually need you to gain an extra four hours of sleep to recover you your expectation is that it should and when your expectation doesn't get met you get upset about it and you change your behavior and that's when you start getting sleep problems when the reality is your brain is so smart that even in the certain amount of hours that you get normally at night it can recover you from that sleep deprivation by just improving or increasing the sleep stage that it thinks you missed the most for example but because we have a lack of education we believe we don't get some sleep we need to regain that sleep and when we don't regain that sleep that's when the anxieties and the stresses over not sleeping start so that's a big one the sleep debt one the other one is this idea that fatigue and sleepiness are the same things so yes when we don't sleep well we get a lot of fatigue so fatigue is anything from feeling like your body needs to rest and needing to shut your eyes to pain to your brain buzzing because you've been working so hard for like 48 hours straight and you don't know what to do with yourself but the only definition of sleepiness is the ability to shut your eyes and within a few minutes you're falling asleep so if you were saying to me right now Steph I am so so sleepy I'd probably say to you well you don't look at because right now you don't look tired in the way that I would expect you to be falling asleep I mean you wouldn't be able to sit still you you would be sort of probably your eyes would be shutting or the time dozing off having little micro sleeps that's sleepiness and that's what we should really be understanding as a cue to sleep so in the evenings if you're not feeling that then don't be don't be worried give yourself permission to stay up later because you can't dictate what happens to you during the day and there are so many variables that affect your sleep you are never going to be able to control of them having good sleep hygiene how many good sleepers do you know have it so good sleep hygiene is all these things that we get told we should do so the 10 top things that you should do have a warm bath never drink coffee ever again never have alcohol you know all these things that you're supposed to do but if you look at good sleepers are they following all those things no they're not and they're still sleeping really well and that's to show that most of the time sleeping poorly comes down to brain training and the patterns we get ourselves into you start going to bed early you might be able to get to sleep earlier but you're probably not going to be able to have that sleep all the way through the night because at some point or another your body's going to be like well you've had enough now but your expectation is you should be able to sleep till seven and why didn't I sleep till seven or if you lie in you keep changing the goal post of your wake-up time which is the most important thing that you should be looking at not your bed time if you keep changing that goal post your body doesn't know when to feed you it doesn't know when to make you feel alert because you've changed everything and so of course you're not going to be sleepy at the right time in the evening the time you wake up is the a much more important time to be focused on yes the things your morning routine is going to be way more important than your evening routine when it comes to your sleep at night but because people see that as a far away time compared to when you go to sleep they don't really focus on it in fact haven't we been taught in this society that lying in is a luxury i can't believe that we have made it okay at the weekend to lie in so much but during the week one of the only things that gets us up is work it makes absolutely no sense to me i'm not saying it's the worst thing in the world i'm not saying i never lie in but i don't use it as a compensatory method for a bad night's sleep because that's when you're going to get into trouble because that's kind of throwing your your schedule up is that what you're saying yeah yeah so if you lie on the weekends and you're going to pay for it at some other point yeah yeah why are we not looking you know if you have to lie in so significantly every single weekend why are we not looking at during the week and thinking why am i doing this to myself at the time when i need it the most i would choose to get less sleep and then at the weekend i'll just compensate and people and much of the conversation around sleep in society talks about the amount of hours and it's almost like the amount of hours that i was in the bed um what's your sort of rebuttal to that because quality over quantity every single time every single time and if you have good quality and you need longer your body will tell you and you will get more sleep but people are so obsessed with duration and i i think people don't understand what i mean by sleep opportunity i mean every single night most of the times about 80 percent of the time i will give myself a seven to eight hour sleep opportunity sleep window but i do not mean that if i'm not sleepy i take myself into a dark room and shut myself down i just know that it's there i've got a bedroom a place i really want to be to sleep that is available to me during those hours and i will not sleep outside those hours and that's the that is the big thing is you can dictate to your body when you don't sleep but you cannot dictate when you do and by doing that you will force your body to be in a nice regular cycle it's actually really really simple once you know how to do it and every time i fix someone of their insomnia there and honestly 50 60 years of insomnia they often turn around to me they're like i don't know why i wasn't taught this um when i was younger and i do believe if we taught everyone how to sleep properly give them a proper sleep education when they're little i wouldn't exist insomnia wouldn't exist you talked there when you referenced your own bedroom i think you spoke about it quite lovingly so that's just a place i like to sleep how important is that how important is it to sleep in


How should I be designing my environment (16:51)

the same place and for that space to be is there a certain way i should be designing my bedroom is there like a bed that's good or like a pillow you know there's lots of fans around yeah yeah there's a lot of fans around i think your environment is important but i can't dictate to you what that is because we're all so different um yes it's true you don't need loads of technology in your bedroom to sleep i'm not saying technology can't aid our sleep because i think in the future we're going to come up with some crazy cool things that are going to really help us i just think right now we're not quite there i think the least you have in your bedroom that reminds you of the day is really important so obviously screens and light is very important when it comes to sleep but i think people are missing a trick when when we say don't look at your phones we're not just saying don't look at your phones because of the light exposure we're saying it because it's reminding your brain of something that you did during the day and so your brain being the smart thing that it is is thinking okay well i'll um i'll i'll increase your cortisol and i'll reduce your melatonin which is your stress and your sleepy hormone uh hormones and i'm going to help you be more alert because you clearly want to be alert right now as your brain thinks it's helping you and then you're thinking hang on a minute i just looked at my phone for like three seconds and now i'm buzzing why and it's just because your brain is it your your behavior is so much more influential on your physiology than you realize what do you think about the snooze button uh-huh um i think


What do you thunk about the snooze button? (18:25)

if you have to use it on a regular basis you need to start questioning why you always need to snooze unfortunately the research shows that snoozing does not benefit us at all and actually if you think about it if if you are a snoozer you know how many times does that actually make us feel better doesn't exactly delays sorry no i i think it's nonsense as well i did i i one of my modules when i was doing psychology in school was about sleep and um understanding the different phases of sleep made me realize that the snooze button is i think totally pointless because you have to be in a certain phase of sleep for you to get real benefits so that within 15 minutes it's not going to get there you're not going to get there that phase right absolutely um a lot of people when they you know when they knew that i was speaking to you today um they want to know how they can sleep better in the short term tonight they're looking for some kind of quick fix to the to a problem they've had for a long time what would you say to those people okay so the first thing i'd say is that


How to sort your sleep tonight (19:08)

you're never going to find that reactive very quick method it's never going to happen and even if you find it i promise you it won't work in the long term it might control your condition in the short term but not in the long term i can teach you how to read to sleep but it's going to take you a few weeks not a night but in the meantime don't worry it's okay like part part of this is i just there is a solution so what i do is call cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia it is not the same as CBT for depression or anxiety or anything else and it is just about retraining yourself to sleep and building up that strong sleep drive you have to do that over time um but in the short term i usually tell people that they do not need to worry nothing bad is going to happen to you and the reality is that it's more your mood that will affect your day when you wake up in the morning than the bad night sleep you just had so i know we've got evidence to show that when you have a bad night sleep your cognitive abilities etc are going to be reduced however if you think about how you generalize that you're not you're not going to lose your job you're not going to perform horrifically in that meeting because you didn't get a good night's sleep it would be far better for you to go to bed later and make sure you're lovely and sleepy and only get four hours then to go to bed eight hours before that meeting and toss and turn and be fidgety and stressed and anxious all night that's what i do i still get nervous when i have to do like a lecture in front of 500 people of course i get nervous but instead of you know focusing on my notes just before i go to bed i'll put everything aside i'll go and enjoy myself do something i really love to do i'll get ready for bed a bit earlier than usual just so that i do not have to think about anything when i get sleepy and when i am sleepy even if it's two three four hours later than usual i know that i'll go and have a really lovely three or four hour sleep and then i'll wake up and i'll be like great i know i'm going to be a bit sleepy today but that's only going to help me sleep tonight and i'm going to have an epic day i don't care that i'm a bit sleepy sleepiness is amazing sleepiness is such a good thing for you why are we teaching people that sleepiness is a bad thing you need sleepiness to sleep i've got two questions there the first i'm sure is it feels like a very um related sort of questions what you've just been talking about there which is do you sleep well i'm sure you get asked this all the time every party every time you're in it's like


Do you sleep well? (21:39)

asking a comedian to tell a joke right it's like how is your sleep okay so most of the time my sleep is fairly good because i've been lucky enough to be educating myself through this for the last 16 years but it's not good all the time because it's totally normal after some kind of life stressor new illness some dramatic change in our society like we're seeing right now for your sleep to change and for it to be poor okay it is totally normal to have sleep problems we will all get them you will never find someone who does not have a sleep problem at some point in their lives but there is a difference between somebody who has a short term sleep problem and when the initial issue resolves itself the sleep problem goes away and the person who has now unfortunately got a long term sleep problem the difference is the behavior it is not the person it is not some trait that you have over someone it's not something genetic there are there are all of those things that do feed into for example insomnia but the reality is the thing that seems to perpetuate sleep problems is not usually the original trigger so we cannot blame the divorce for example 20 years ago i'm not divorced but i'm just making example so 20 years ago we get divorced and it's a really stressful situation and it stops you sleeping for a month okay but now you're remarried and you're perfectly happy but you've got a 20 year insomnia problem we cannot blame the divorce for that anymore and also somebody else who's gone through the same situation same illness or divorce or new medication would not have had that sleep problem 20 years later so what is it and i believe and we know that most of it is your behavior after a few weeks of a sleep problem most people will freak out and they'll start changing their behavior so they might start lying in they might start going to bed early they're trying desperately to improve their sleep opportunity because they believe the mere act of lying in a bed for longer is going to miraculously give them a stronger sleep drive and make them get through whatever it is they need to get through when the reality is and this is usually how we treat insomnia or one of the ways we actually deprive you of your sleep opportunity so we don't deprive you of sleep but we do deprive you of your sleep opportunity so we only allow you to be in bed for a certain amount of time and that fixes it but that's frightening because we're teaching people that sleep is so bad or not sorry not sleep is so bad but sleepiness is so bad that they don't feel that they can build up that strong sleep drive without something terrible happening to them so the way we are disseminating knowledge right now is not working and we have got to find a way to change that you talked about the type of


The Therapy you offer (24:19)

therapy you offer cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia one of the elements you've described is this sleep deprivation which is in essence you're stopping people sleeping I'm guessing throughout the day to focus them on their sleep opportunity yeah so it's less about restricting their sleep and more about restricting their bedtime so often when you come across somebody who's had a sleep problem for a fair while enough to come to see me they're usually spending more time in bed than they are sleeping so for example they might be in bed for around 10 hours but they're only sleeping for say six hours and so what I would do is I would restrict them in the first instance only so it's only mildly to six hours in bed because or five hours in bed whatever they're sleeping for we would never really go lower than five hours because at the end of the day we're only sort of guess it's all a bit of guesswork here and that's important that it's like that and we're not over tracking sleep because that's has its own issues and then for a week also I'll keep them on that schedule and try and get them to strictly stick to it which is quite scary for somebody who thinks the total opposite way is going to fix them even though they've got no evidence that it works it doesn't matter they've been doing it for a long time so it's quite hard to get someone to do this and then once we can get them to sleep for around 90% of that five or six hours whatever they spend in bed then we can start increasing their sleep time out very very slowly but people sort of get very over eager about this it's called sleep restriction therapy or there's lots of different ways of calling it and people get over excited about it and they're obsessed with reaching that 90% efficiency so they can move on and add time but I try to always explain to people and indeed I do online courses in sleep that they can do themselves and I'm always trying to explain to them it's not about adding more time imagine if you are getting to five or six hours sleep efficient every every night for seven days as an average that's really good that's so much better than the broken sleep you were getting before think about the new quality that you have built how amazing is that when's the last time you went for a week and you had that consistent sleep and when they start thinking about it that way they're like oh my god yes this is so much better and I'm even able to add more time now and we slowly incrementally start adding sleep out and that's how you fix it I mean it's not everything because you've got to work on the mindset you've got to work on the re-educating people those are the pieces of the therapy so yeah you've got it so first of all is the sort of sleep restriction as you called it yeah one area is you we need to you've got to be re-educated on sleep much like we've been chit chatting away today that's how I will talk to someone and I will try to help them understand I'll try and pick out a lot of the things that they talk to me about but it's trying to help them understand where the myths are and where the facts are with sleep because a lot of their ideologies around sleep will be directly influencing their behavior and so soon as you can change that and it's not as simple as just saying that's right and that's wrong you got to keep doing it and they need to trust you and you've got to find a way in the right language to speak to that person once you've done that you can start with the sleep restriction and then of course whilst there is no evidence that relaxation or anxiety reduction is going to directly and reactively fix a long-term sleep disorder after you started improving your sleep drive and using the sleep restriction therapy to do that then yes we do need to start looking at how do you bring yourself back to balance during the day is it stress and anxiety that got you here in the first place because you're working too much and you got yourself into the wrong patterns how are you going to process more during the day how are you going to balance more during the day we need to look at those things but we need to look at them with the right expectations which is that they are not going to make you sleep because once that expectation is not met you feel really inadequate and then you feel like nothing can help you and then you get hopeless and out of control and lonely about your problem so all this lots of different sort of elements like a pyramid to try and help someone with their sleep and you know people caffeine has become a huge part of our you know we live in a society where people take caffeine to wake them up and then quite often they'll take certain supplements to shut them down again like sleep you supplements or various night hole I think is one of them right yeah yeah what's your take on all of these chemicals we're using to kind of


Caffeine and sleeping pills (28:20)

regulate our alertness and then our tiredness they just they can't work over time so all the research shows that eventually you either get used to them they stop working they make you feel really uncomfortable I don't think there's anything wrong with for example sleeping pills or using caffeine in the short term things like that but starting to use them long term they have their own all of them have their own side effects and over a long time of use aren't very good for the body but in general they're just not going to they're not going to suddenly miraculously reset your sleep button or anything that's people seem to think they're going to do so I don't think relying on these things in the short term is a bad thing every now and again but if you're relying on them every single time you have a sleep problem you're effectively making it worse because your brain isn't learning anything it is literally just being giving a cheat method like a fake sleep almost and that is what you get from a lot of sedatives sedative sleep which is not the same as the cycles that you go through usually to sleep well so you're not getting but psychologically we believe that sleep is better than no sleep and actually I don't necessarily agree with that in a way I'd rather get no sleep than a really rubbish sleep knowing that my body will like build up a really strong sleep drive and help me later but people are so terrified of that that they that psychologically they just need to feel like they've slept but if they had a bit of better education around sleep and they understood how it worked more then I don't think people would be trying to grab all these things all the time but we live in a reactive society we're not very proactive as creatures we want we want it now and we want it done yesterday what about caffeine that's such a huge part of everybody's well pretty much everybody's daily routine people they you know they'll say I have to have this coffee to wake myself up and I have three or four of them a day and then what impact does that end up having on sleep so caffeine is very interesting because genetically we are all either sensitive or not sensitive or somewhere in between with caffeine so it's very hard to say nobody should be drinking caffeine after this time yes it does have a very sort of it has a big afterlife so it definitely or half-life so what we mean by that is that you know it's going to have an effect on you hours and hours after you've had it but depending on how sensitive you are to it you are you know but at the same time there's so much more you can do if you started waking up at the same time every day you would start to feel refreshed you would be one of those people who wakes up and is like yeah I'm ready to start the day imagine if you just used your body the way it was designed to be used I'm not saying caffeine is bad I definitely wouldn't say you can't drink caffeine but if you're starting to use it anything in life in anything chemical in a in a compensatory method because something is wrong that's when you need to start questioning it but in general having caffeine in the morning I don't think there's anything wrong with that if you enjoy it great but then there's lots of research that shows that even your performance isn't significantly improved by having caffeine you might feel like you're able to buzz around everything more but your actual efficiency isn't necessarily improved I want you know because I think I was looking at some stats around insomnia and sleep just sort of sleep disorders and the stats are pretty staggering and I don't know how to say this but I just don't tend to believe that humans after all these thousands of years of evolution have been born with quite an apparent or seemingly apparent problem with sleep so it makes me think okay so what is it in our social environment and society that's making us struggle with sleep is it our over obsession with the


Whats causing all these sleeping problems? (31:45)

perfect sleep that might be one element and this you know and all the fear and anxiety around not sleeping perfectly as you've described and we're actually doing pretty good yeah right and labeling ourselves as insomnia you know because that word I'm an insomnia or I've been insomnia it's thrown around pretty easily or is it the you know the the tech in our lives is it the the over stimulation of the you know the technology we have is it overworking what's your take on that because I feel the same about depression and anxiety as well I look at the stats growing over time in with various sort of mental illnesses and I think surely we weren't born with chemical imbalances as is said in yeah I love them yeah I so it's a hard question to answer I think that there is element there's lots of different elements I don't believe that the stats are as accurate as they probably seem for example I believe that before you know the industrial revolution for example we had sleep problems I mean I know I do I believe we did it's just that I believe we're recording things now more so there's that aspect of it there is this aspect of we over worry about things and you know at the end of the day while someone keep you know lots of people out there keep telling us that actually you know if you sleep less than six hours you will die early but actually we're not actually seeing that how much am I reducing my life expectancy with my poor sleep the thing is okay so if you know you've got poor sleep you need to improve it but hopefully it's not going to be a long term you can actually get some support for that and get it sorted if you're actively keeping yourself at five hours when you know you're a seven hour sleeper then yeah you're going to reduce your life expectancy but if you're naturally a five hour sleeper and they do exist then that does not mean the same thing that you're going to be reducing your life expectancy when they genetically you can't you know that's for you and it's really difficult to understand I think you know electricity has a big part to play so again I talked a little bit briefly at the beginning about the light cycles of this planet and the way that we are designed or not designed but you know we're built on this planet we seem to have evolved that way and so we we we definitely do need to be in general not working and resting more at night and we we work better on metabolisms our brains function we're more rational during the day and so with electricity has become many problems I definitely think the scaremongering and the fear and the tracking of sleep has definitely caused in the last few years a boom in sleep problems or at least how many people are coming to us for help and with the pandemic what impact has that had on people's sleep heal let's talk about heal for a second I've spent a lot of time on this podcast talking about the ready to drink your bottles which are my favorite for convenience reasons it means I don't have to mix anything but this week as my goals in gym and in my health and in my physique have started to evolve I've started using a new product that I wanted to tell you about and the reason why I've started using this product which is called he'll the black edition is because there's 50% less carbs 33% more protein zero artificial sweeteners and it's of course gluten free I wish I had something like this to be honest when I was a student because it's literally one pound 47 per meal I think you get about 17 or 18 meals out of one bag and if you're someone like me that in this phase of my life that's trying to build a bit of muscle get a little bit more lean whilst also you know reducing the carbs a little bit then give black edition heal a try and try the vanilla flavor if you do get a chance because that's for me is the the tastiest flavor of them all and do you know what I'm going to do next week in the podcast I'm going to take my top off okay so I'm going to show you the impact that all of this being a heal again has had for me you have to tune in next week and you're going to have to watch on YouTube to see that but I'm going to show you that the before and after of using heal and and before I used to okay so that's something to look forward to or maybe not with the pandemic what impact has


What impact has the pandemic had on peoples sleep (36:38)

that had on people's sleep it's had a huge impact so in various different ways so the first way is that everybody's routine changed and because we couldn't go outside and move as much as we once did we couldn't get as much light exposure as we once did we didn't get as much stimulation social stimulation so our brains weren't being used in the same way plus we all had this sort of thing to look at on the news all the time so we're actively sort of looking at something that's stressing us out and making us anxious so various different components no wonder sleep changed but it would have been totally normal for that to happen your sleep is adapting to your new environment and so when people start worrying about this I try to get them to calm down about it because actually if your sleep wasn't working properly you just wouldn't be here okay so to a degree our sleep is doing a bloody good job for us and we need to be better about it we blame sleep for everything and actually there's so many other variables that we can control in our lives that will have an effect on us but yes during the pandemic we saw or we still see there's plenty more problems with people struggling to get to sleep maybe they're feeling really buzzy and they can't get to sleep maintaining that sleep so people waking up in the middle of the night and they're just like why am I waking up sometimes they they've got million thoughts in a minute or sometimes they're just thinking of nothing and they don't know why that's happening we've seen more dream recall very graphic dreams and we believe that's because obviously when your routine changes and you don't have to work and ironically I always say to Insomniacs that actually when they're working and when they've got busy lives it's a lot easier to treat them than when they don't have a routine because routine is everything to our bodies I wish we understood more how much our bodies love to be regulated and going to work and doing exercise and going to see our friends and going to the gym and eating at regular intervals is telling your brain so many signals the light exposure you get is telling your brain about how much melatonin to release really it's fascinating but we do need regulation and the biggest thing that changed during this pandemic was our routines people people have a real desire as well you mentioned the the fact that the pandemic had caused very like vivid dreams people have asked me so many times if they can control their dreams or how do they stop themselves dreaming so vividly or and some people having you know recurring nightmares and things like that what what is your answer to that what control do we have on our dreams so you can you can learn to that's what we call lucid dreaming so you can learn to lucid dream the problem


What control do we have on our dreams? (38:48)

is it's probably not very good for your sleep in general um so effectively when we remember our dreams it's because we have been woken out of REM sleep so REM is actually a very active stage of sleep it's not your deep sleep it's actually quite a light stage of sleep some might argue that's even a different state of consciousness and not sleep at all so REM is a really strange time it's when we believe that more of our memory in our psychological restoration is happening in consolidation and things like that and part of REM we tend to have more graphic dreams but it's it's you being interrupted from that state which you may not remember in the night it could just be a van driving past in your REM sleep and it wakes you into a lighter stage of sleep like stage one or two sleep and so in the morning you think oh my god I really remember my dreams or maybe you were alarm woke you up in the middle of REM sleep and you're like oh my god I can really remember my dreams as opposed to the times when you're like I didn't dream a tool last night well of course you did dream it's just that your REM wasn't interrupted so that's why you're remembering your dreams when we try to control our dreams usually you have to kind of control that interruption a bit and so I haven't looked into it properly in terms of lucid dreaming because it doesn't really help me do my job I don't really want people to learn to lucid dream because then one they're going to be remembering their dreams more and if they're remembering their dreams more than their sleep is more interrupted and that's not good for your sleep we want you to go through the cycles of sleep as as you know as comfortably as we can and so that you get all the right percentages and all the right restoration and healing and everything that you need from your sleep so yeah it's an interesting concept I don't think it's very helpful to healthy sleep but every now and again especially kids I find when I'm talking to children they seem to be able to control their dreams a little bit better like flying for example they concentrate more on it that's why so they have more time and they concentrate on it which is quite a fun thing maybe we should all be doing more of that daydreaming and stuff it's actually really good for problem solving so yeah it's fascinating and and and there's a lot of famous people I think Einstein though don't I mean I don't know if I'm right about this but Einstein and various other geniuses would do things like hold a egg or a spoon or something so that if and when they fell asleep that spoon would drop and then they would wake up because they felt they had all their best ideas I can see you looking at me and thinking about but it's not very good for sleep to keep interrupting it like that so you can yes you've got the power to manipulate sleep however you want but at the end of the day if the goal here is to keep you alive for longer and to feel refreshed in the day and to have your best ideas consistently and to be healthy consistently then you probably want to do sleep right the way it was designed and what about what I eat before I get a bed a lot of people talk about that that's another thing you know if I order food really late someone will turn to me in the


Relationship Between Sleep, Diet, And Mental Health

How does what I eat effect my sleep? (42:02)

room and go oh you shouldn't be in at this time you know no meaning what do I say to that okay you like I've said it before a good sleeper does all the wrong things and they seem to be okay but they're probably not doing all the wrong things all the time so yes the the later you eat you're basically asking your body to metabolize and asking it to sleep and it does not like doing both and so one of them will be compromised in terms of anything that you can eat that will have a significant effect on your sleep there's no real research there is research to show things like you know if you if you eat enough cherries or you have enough milk or enough turkey it's going to give you some kind of sedatory effect but at the end of the day it's you'd have to have a stupid amount of those kind of foods to have any kind of effect it's not going to help you sleep healthily from day to day that's not going to suddenly boost the quality of your sleep significantly so I would argue that unless you have some kind of deficiency in a vitamin or mineral that is affecting your sleep then you probably don't need to be looking at the food you eat in general as I'm sure a lot of people will say but in general eating a healthy balanced diet where you have what you would call naughty foods and good foods and imbalance all that stuff is really good for you and probably the only piece of advice I'd give around eating is again regulating how you eat so if it's breakfast lunch and dinner you like to do trying to do that at consistent times every single day is going to help your body understand when you want to be awake and metabolizing and when you want to be sleeping and then not sleeping too late at night just so that you can make sure that your body metabolizes well and sleeps well and can I sleep too much is that such a people people there's this myth again in society where people think that they overslept and now they're knackered right so yeah so you can it usually when people say they've overslept if we actually looked at them in a sleep study and they've overslept for the amount that they usually sleep and they didn't need it


Can I sleep too much? (43:56)

probably the quality of their entire sleep wouldn't be amazing and that's why they were able to have this dribble drabberly longer sleep and and it's not it's not going to be very helpful but usually when we're talking about that research that shows that longer sleepers actually can get sicker is because the quality of their sleep is impaired by something like sleep apnea or another sleep disorder which is impairing the quality of their sleep so poor quality sleep yeah so poor quality sleep you're gonna sleep longer it's kind of the same as having insomnia because you're not really sleeping and so therefore you feel you need to sleep longer and you wake up and you still don't feel like you've slept as much as you needed to if you're sleeping really well from night to night you don't need to sleep more so your body won't really let you so if the quality is good and you've reached that optimal time you'll notice that if you do try to sleep longer it's quite if I looked at that sleep for you in a polysomnography study so I looked at your brain activity the quality of it it's just like a snooze it's probably not going to be the same it's not going to be but it's very rare you find someone like usually they're deprived of something or other or they haven't been sleeping properly and then they sleep a bit longer you hear a lot of um a lot of successful people I think it's it's part of bragging you know bragging about how little they sleep or so I don't sleep three four hours a day and and I think it's pushed this idea into society that in order to be successful you've got to sleep for you know just two or three hours or four hours whatever but then on the other side you have


These top tips about sleep (45:17)

this total contradiction which is in order to be successful you need to wake up at 6 a.m. and drink green juice and do yoga and like sleep for exactly seven hours and it and it I guess this kind of speaks to the original point which was that there's so much overgeneralization and through an attempt to sell you something whether it's a book or my authority or to get you to follow me I kind of preach this secret which can be quite easily replicated for all of you right that's causing us to to be like be smacked like smacked with these contradicting narratives around sleep which is making everyone a little bit confused what's your sort of take on all of that because you know as when I was growing up I thought you know if I want to be successful I've got to just sleep less and I think if I'm being completely honest with myself I think I used to be proud of how little I sleeped I thought it was like a more like a badge of honor you know yeah yeah yeah yeah but now I think I'm getting a little bit older and I'm I don't really give a fuck of what people think yeah good good um so yeah I I definitely have seen a change around in this recently but yeah there has has been this thing about like clean sleeping it's a bit like the whole clean eating thing it's because it's everything that you've effectively just said but people trying to say you need to do this that and that to have the perfect night sleep actually that doesn't really exist once you know how much sleep you need around make sure you have that opportunity most nights that you don't know though um so I guess you referenced genetics you said there are five hours yeah yeah yeah yeah so I guess um I get a more relaxed way of looking at it is when you go on holiday after the three four days of recovery from you know work life um what happens you know left your own devices what happens and that's a pretty good way of looking at it if you're looking at a really scientific way then sleep restriction therapy so what we would put a insomniac through also will show you how much of a duration that you need right now because there'll be a point where you can't keep adding time your body won't get you to 90% efficient and that's where you know okay maybe this is around the right time for me and sleeping mental health I feel like it's I don't know my guess would be a that it's some kind of a cycle right I think poor sleep might lead to poor mental health and then poor mental health might lead to poor sleep is that accurate you're absolutely right but it doesn't matter what came first the chicken or the egg the main issue is especially in medicine and I've just done a piece of research that shows


The correlation between poor mental health and poor sleep (47:53)

that undergraduate medical degrees only teach a median of an hour and a half of sleep so this is why this next thing happens a lot because they just don't have the education so our own doctors do not have enough education is something that we do a third of our lives so historically or traditionally when you go to your GP and you say I've got a sleep problem they'll tell you've got depression and insomniacs will be able to relate to this and it is because in general we look at sleep or poor sleep as the symptom of another condition now even if it is even if you do have a significant mental health problem and it is causing you to have sleep issues if it's been longer than three months you now have a entrained sleep disorder and you need to be treating the sleep problem as a primary condition in itself and the one that I would treat first is whichever one is most prevalent so whichever symptoms seem to be more distressing for you at the time is where I would start but I would be fixing for example the depression and the insomnia separately and the results show that when you treat insomnia you have less relapse of depression because you have actually resolved one of these things that unfortunately was perpetuating everything so it doesn't really matter where sleep comes into it but you've got to give it its own podium it needs to be it is a pillar of health and you need to treat it that way you reference a good sleeper and bad sleeper what's the what are the characteristics of each so everyone always thinks I'm going to say well a good sleeper does this and a good sleeper does that but actually the only difference I have seen over however long doing this is that a good sleeper


characteristics of a good sleeper and bad sleeper (49:32)

somebody who just doesn't worry that much about their sleep they are very grateful for their sleep and they're very you know you know they they give themselves the fair opportunity they don't always sleep well they don't you know sometimes they have sleep problems but they don't get overly bothered by it and they notice that their sleep when left to its own devices will go back to whatever it needs to be about 10% of insomnia x we never see because they don't perceive themselves to be having a problem and they're not sick and dying isn't this somewhat uh I guess a metaphor for the rest of our lives as well where typically much of the problem is people thinking that they have a problem or their own perception of their reality because I'll be honest everyone around me doesn't think I sleep very well but I've always thought that I slept really really well and I've just I think refused to buy into the idea that I'm a bad sleeper they think that because I'm up at strange times sometimes I'm traveling extremely but I I've never worried about my sleep when I go into my room eventually I fall asleep and at some point I'll wake up but I guess the point I'm trying to make there is as well if you look at what's happening in the world um with the pandemic and you know people feeling certain um feeling like they should be a certain way is actually making them that way people feeling like they should feel self-pity is making them feel self-pity and as someone that's been to Rio de Janeiro and seen the um the favelas there and spent time in the favelas but also I've been to India and spent some time in there to however I think they call it which is you know known as the slums which I think is a derogatory term um I've seen people in this in the slums in India who were significantly happier um than people that I know that are very you know relatively as cushy and I know it's all subjective living in the UK and I just but people hate when we talk about these these these things because it gets the mirror of blame and responsibility and it just turns it back on themselves and says yeah maybe you're the problem yeah maybe the way you're thinking is the problem and maybe you can do something about it yeah absolutely you've hit the nail on the head um like I said about 10% of insomniacs we we never see and actually if you think about it insomniye is just another pattern of sleep and you have a certain pattern of sleep right now and if it's not broken do not fix it I firmly believe that and if you ever have a problem well you know where I am um but hopefully you never will because you'll follow your gut follow what you feel is right um if that turns you awry then fair enough um get some support but actually you you really have hit the nail on the head and I really do believe with a bit more of understanding and education around sleep and that it's not night to night your your sleep doesn't work like that I get yes we do need to most of the time sleep night to night but it can survive without doing that um it is it's incredible if we spent more time understanding how amazing sleep was rather than fearing when it doesn't happen and then blaming it for absolutely everything we would be in a much better position we would cherish it more and we would um you know love it more but not overly put pressure on it which is ridiculous sleep cannot force you to lose your job sleep can't do though or lack of it but it just can't um but our belief that it does is making this problem worse so yes it is a hundred percent of mindset I spend most of my time not training people to sleep again but actually trying to help resolve that mindset one of the last things I do when I finished with a client is I have to go through and help them understand that sleep is not the be all an end or because actually even to treat their sleep I have to get them to focus on it and actually I need to take the focus away now and one of the exercises I do is I tell them look I now want you to think that we're in a world where sleep doesn't exist and when I do that people are like oh my god that would be awful because it would just be one long perpetual day we'd never finish our day just philosophically and psychologically how would we do with that and actually I'm like yes that's how you should be thinking about it because that time even when you're not sleeping is beautiful and we should cherish it and also if you didn't sleep what would be all the other variables that would affect you and I start getting them to think about the rest of their lives and all these other things like exercise and eating right and they're just the basics um who you interact with when you watch the news the bills you paid that day whether you walk to the dog um all sorts of things pain um noisy neighbors your commute to work how many of those things actually have a properly significant impact on you but you'll still blame it on your sleep and then it's a perpetual cycle because then you start compensating well I'm not going to do this anymore I'm not going to go to the gym I'm not going to see my friends I'm terrified that's going to do something that affects my sleep and then your sleep is worse because your body's now thinking oh so she doesn't need to get good sleep at night because she's not doing anything in the day anymore and so you make it worse and worse and worse and that is one of the biggest things I see in a long term insomnia because somebody who's literally stopped living in order to fix the problem why do we think that's going to fix the problem it doesn't well not a bad sleeper then so we talked a little bit about the pro like the profile of the characteristics of a good sleeper what's a bad sleeper so a bad sleeper is somebody who really does um they get bad sleep and suddenly they start worrying about the lack of sleep and then what they'll do is they'll look up how do I fix my sleep they'll come up with 10 regimented rules and they'll start becoming obsessive and ritualistic about those rules they'll stop going out in the evening and they'll start having the hot one bath the herbal tea and every single thing that they have um they think and they know it doesn't work but they're so terrified of not doing them because that's all they've got to hold on to now that they are you know they they they can't go away from it and actually trying to teach those people to sleep better is it's harder than somebody who's a bit more relaxed around their routine because they've built these things up so hard you know what's really funny is um what you've described there is a person who is so keen to solve a problem that probably isn't that much of a problem that they're they're in search of these techniques and tips and secrets and shortcuts and whatever probably a lot of the people that felt compelled to click on this podcast today to listen to it and you see the same within uh success and ambition you see this like this certain group of people that i'm gonna be honest okay are almost never really successful but spend the most time trying to be and when i when i think about my success so when i read these books about oh the the perfect way to be successful here's 13 tips that all successful people share i think this is total f*cking nonsense because my sleep is i sleep whenever i feel tired as you say i eat blah blah blah you know i don't do yoga i don't like meditate every day i don't i don't follow any script or blueprint i just kind of go with the flow and do my best every single day and show up and try and be better tomorrow like if that that's that as far as it goes for me there's no looking in the mirror and saying Steve you're gonna be a millionaire Steve you're gonna be you know i mean all of that feels like nonsense to me but the people that seem to um do those things the visualizations in the mirror the moodboarding my future like they're not they are never the successful ones all of my successful friends don't do that yeah yeah yeah and i i maybe i think what i'm saying is i sounds like the same applies to sleep yeah well like the the people that get addicted on techniques and tips and tricks end up having the worst sleep overall yeah what have we missed i'm asking you this question because there's so many unknown unknowns i don't i don't know a ton about sleep again because i've never really cared about it right so is there anything that you think we've missed any specific topics or i think i would love it if people came away from this podcast and gave their sleep a little bit of a break and in the same sort of with the same idea i'm sure there'll be people out


Podcast Objectives

What do you want people to get from this podcast? (57:14)

there thinking yes but when i wake up tonight in the middle of the night what do i do about it so i guess this is one thing we haven't covered to understand that if you are waking up in the middle of the night and it's been happening to you over and over again this has become a habit and therefore to resolve the habit you're going to have to do something consistently you're not going to be able to solve it in one night it's just not going to happen however if you're waking up and you're getting stressed and anxious do not lie in bed it's not going to help you you've got a different problem now you've made yourself anxious and stressed and you need to alleviate it leave the bedroom go and enjoy yourself it is not going to wake you up you are already awake your sleep drive clearly isn't there to take you back to sleep so go do something else make sure you get up in the morning do not lie in go and have the epic day enjoy yourself go and see your friends or talk to them over zoom or go and do some exercise get outside get some light exposure be happy and content in your life focus on other things and go to bed when you're really really sleepy and when it happens again the next night do the same thing and i promise you eventually you will be able to get out of it but if you lie there and you get anxious and stressed and you try and force yourself to sleep you already know this doesn't work you're trying it over and over again so don't do it so that's the thing that i would say i hope that when people listen to this they come away and they're like you know what i'm not as worried as i was about my sleep i'm actually going to chill out and i'm going to be all right about it but if i do want to improve the quality i've listened to what she said there's some key things there i'm going to i'm going to try do those few things but it's about the little things so it's not about doing 20 different things it is just about literally get up at the same time every morning stop over compensating stop diluting your sleep opportunity when you don't get good sleep make it smaller build that sleepiness it's actually good for you don't freak out nothing bad is going to happen and you talked to one particular point i wanted to come back on there because i when i asked my audience about the questions i had for you again about i say 15 20 percent of them were all about i keep waking up in the middle of the night yeah yeah what to do so you're saying get out of bed get out of bed and go and do something that you love do not yeah do not go and do something like clean the bathroom or do something boring go and do something that is going to be distracting for god's sake we're always going on about how little time we have you've got more time now so go and use it go and do something fun i'm not saying get up and go to work i'm not saying that because i still think this is your sleep opportunity and if you want to retrain your brain to sleep during this time then you've got to sort of do things that are i'm not saying you need to relax relax because i think people get stressed at that term and they're like i can't relax i don't know how to relax don't make me do this so i think what makes you happy do some things that just make you happy whether that's looking at old photos or just doing something that you love it is okay okay it's not going to be forever like i said you cannot force yourself to sleep but you can dictate when you don't sleep so as long as you're not overcompensating by lying in or going to bed early because you're so worried about the sleep that you've lost forget it it's gone there's nothing you can do about it so just move on and do the right things and i promise you you will start sleeping better but the more you freak out and you're worried about what is going to happen to you if you don't sleep another night in a row the more you won't be able to fix the problem great where can people find you so i'm at sleepyheadclinic.co.uk it's gone pretty international now because of the covid is literally i'm online now and sleepyheadprogram.com if you have no time to speak to me or you just want to do it yourself i have set up this online course that you can do which i'm very excited about with two awesome business partners who are just as crazy and passionate about sleep as i am and hopefully we can start seeing more people and build on it and make it an even better experience so yeah listen thank you so much for your time today sleep is a thing that i think is but as i said at the start the podcast has been increased in relevance in our society and in my personal conversations online through instagram through books that aren't as you say necessarily very helpful so it's been very refreshing to hear a almost a counter narrative to the kind of very binary specific um quick um secret orientated like hacks that people push online and that's uh i think we'll do a ton of people a lot of good so thank you so much for coming today thank you so much for having me thank you thank you so much for having me thank you so much for having me thank you so much for having me thank you


Great! You’ve successfully signed up.

Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.

You've successfully subscribed to Wisdom In a Nutshell.

Success! Check your email for magic link to sign-in.

Success! Your billing info has been updated.

Your billing was not updated.